Islington Labour has demanded action from banks and regulators to tackle rip-off charges at cash machines in the borough.
There are over 120 pay-to-use cash machines in Islington, where charges are often £2 per transaction. Research by Islington Labour has found that pay-to-use cash machines are clustered in the most deprived areas of the borough. In contrast, more free-to-use cash machines can be found in the more affluent parts of Islington.
People living in an area like the Andover Estate, one of the most deprived communities in our borough, are facing financial penalties simply for withdrawing their own money. The most common charge at the eight pay-to-use cash machines in this area is £2. That means that a typical £20 cash withdrawal comes with a 10% charge. For someone claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, if they visit a cash machine three times a week withdrawing £20 each time, they will be charged £6 per week or a shocking £312 a year.
Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, attacked the rip-off cash machine charges saying:
“The extortionate charges facing thousands of residents in Islington are outrageous. People are being penalised simply for withdrawing their own money. We need to improve access to free-to-use cash machines and I have called on the banks and the Government’s financial regulator to get a grip of this issue.”
“These crippling charges are made all the more perverse when you realise that within a seven minute walk of the home of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, there are fourteen free-to-use cash machines. This is compared with only two within seven minutes of the Andover Estate. Wealthy individuals can access their money without being ripped-off, but people with less money to start with face steep charges to access their own money.”
Cllr Watts has kicked-off his campaign by writing to the British Bankers Association urging them to encourage the banks to make it easier for people to access their money for free. Cllr Watts has also applied pressure on the operator of the UK’s cash machine network, Link, to install more free-to-use cash machines in areas of Islington which currently have poor access.
Cllr Watts has also called on the Government regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, to take its responsibility to people in deprived communities more seriously and to look urgently at what can be done to bring down charges at pay-to-use cash machines.
Pictured above - Islington Labour Councillors and local residents outside a rip-off cash machine on Seven Sisters Road.